Kentucky sports radio host Matt Jones, potential McConnell challenger, taken off air following GOP complaint

Kentucky radio host Matt Jones, who is mulling a challenge to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellSenate advances public lands bill in late-night vote GOP senator to try to reverse requirement that Pentagon remove Confederate names from bases No, ‘blue states’ do not bail out ‘red states’ MORE (R-Ky.), has been taken off air after the state’s Republican Party filed a complaint with the Federal Election Commission (FEC) against him.

Jones, who hosts Kentucky Sports Radio, issued a statement late Wednesday night and was not present during the broadcast Thursday.

“The complaint is absolute nonsense and very disappointing from someone as powerful as McConnell,” Jones wrote in a statement posted on the station’s website. “I have said repeatedly in public and in filings with the FEC that I am not yet a candidate.”

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Jones said iHeartRadio, the distributor of his show, made the decision that the popular host could no longer appear after the complaint alleged he has corporate campaign contributions from his media appearances.

Jones has not officially launched his candidacy, though he is considering challenging McConnell and running against Amy McGrath in the Democratic Senate primary.

Jones has formed an exploratory committee and also is planning a tour for an upcoming book to be published by Simon & Schuster bashing McConnell. 

“Mr. Jones used his radio show to broadcast the statewide tour, which serves to promote both his candidacy and his campaign-related book,” the complaint stated.

It also alleges iHeartMedia was making “in-kind” contributions by airing Jones’s opinions of McConnell on his show.

The complaint, filed by Republican Party of Kentucky Chairman J. McCauley Brown accuses Jones of failing to report the “contributions and expenditures” to the FEC, saying it amounts to a “willful violation” of its reporting requirements.

The FEC is being asked to investigate its allegations and “impose sanctions” appropriate to the “violations,” including taking Jones and his campaign to federal court.

Jones fired back at McConnell over the complaint, alleging it is a way for the senator to silence his completion.

“Senator McConnell has complained that having me on air is unfair and the man who speaks often about the importance of free speech and the exchange of public ideas has decided to cut off mine,” Jones wrote.

Jones noted that he had hoped he could continue for the show for a few more weeks as he made his decision, but realized “fighting this battle with the Senate majority leader doesn’t make sense.”

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